Carilion, APCO preparing for high waters from Florence


ROANOKE, Va.- – Carilion Clinic is making sure it protects its patients from Hurricane Florence by keeping water out of the hospital. 

As a precaution, the Roanoke hospital put up its flood-retaining wall. Sitting 6 feet off the ground level it is designed to block a lot of water and keep it out of the lobby. There are no patients housed on the first floor.  

"Even if we put the flood walls up by the front door we'll still communicate through the media and through the website to let people know they can still access the hospital. The ED's will remain open no matter what the storm provides, we'll be here for everyone," said Tim Auwarter- vice president of clinical support. 

They practice putting the wall up at least a few times of year whether it's needed or not. Hospital leaders say they're also planning to take a few patients evacuating from locations in the Carolinas.

Hydro-operations staff with Appalachian Power are monitoring Florence right now and have been for days. APCO operates a total of six hydro-electric dams on the New and Roanoke rivers.
In preparation of rain from Hurricane Florence, the company is slowly reducing the adjusted levels at the Claytor Lake reservoirs on the New River. They want the level at about 18 1/2 feet.

This will help with water management issues. 

"If it's in North Carolina for example, that's the headwaters for the New River. So it could affect our New River operations including Claytor. It looks as of today that is that more of the trend of where this storm may be going after it makes landfall," said John Shepelwich, Appalachian Power spokesman. 

Operators can adjust the water levels on a daily basis if needed. Appalachian Power isn't sure how much the Smith Mountain and Leesville reservoirs will be affected yet.